Your Brain on Drugs
Episode 5 of The Addictive Brain

Your Brain on Drugs
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Here you'll examine the ways addiction alters the brain by numbing the pleasure center, sensitizing the dopamine system, and inhibiting the prefrontal cortex. Combined, these altered brain functions lead to strong cravings and a reduced ability to control one's actions. This foray into neuroscience will forever change the way you…
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Episode 1 of The Addictive Brain
Begin your course by defining "addiction," which is diagnosed based on characteristics such as abuse, dependence, and craving. Professor Polk then surveys the history of drug use, from ancient history through the development of synthetics in the 19th and 20th centuries. Finally, he reviews government regulation and the substantial costs…
The Psychology and Neuroscience of Reward
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Explore the brain's mechanisms for learning from reinforcement. You'll start with the psychological aspects, discovering the way humans learn by a series of trials and rewards. Then you'll find out what parts of the brain process pleasure, self-control, and craving, and see how the psychology and neuroscience of reward processing…
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Investigate how people may be susceptible to addiction on a genetic level. Thanks to studies of twins and DNA analysis, scientists are homing in on the genes that predispose us toward addiction. While there is no single "addiction gene," our DNA can significantly influence whether we become addicts.
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Caffeine and nicotine are two of the most common psychoactive drugs in our society. How do they work? How dangerous are they? After reviewing how each of these drugs affects the brain - and why nicotine in particular is so addictive - Professor Polk offers several strategies to quit tobacco…
Stimulants - From Cocaine to Ritalin
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From the original recipe for Coca-Cola to treatments for attention deficit disorder, psychostimulant drugs have had remarkable uses. But they have also been dangerously abused in the form of crack cocaine, methamphetamine, and related drugs. Find out how stimulants work in the brain and why they can be so harmful.
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Episode 10 of The Addictive Brain
Round out your survey of the world's major drugs with an examination of opium and its derivatives, from regularly prescribed painkillers like codeine and morphine to heroin, often considered the most harmful drug of abuse in the world today. Learn about the neurological effects and treatment options for opiate drugs.
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Alcohol is often discussed separately from other drugs, but as you'll discover in this lecture, alcohol affects the human body in many of the same ways. Take a close look at your brain on alcohol to explore dependence, withdrawal, and genetic susceptibility. Then review several treatment options for alcohol abuse.
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Part of the Series: The Neuroscience of Addiction
The Human Brain, lays out the neural-biochemical nature of the brain and examines the relationship of the brain to drugs of abuse.
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Part of the Series: The Neuroscience of Addiction
Drugs in the Brain, discusses how drugs of abuse change the most fundamental information processing networks in the brain by hijacking and changing neural networks.
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Addiction touches us all. What happens when your brain is on drugs? Discover the neural mechanisms that underlie the behaviors of addiction, and see how drugs and activities like gambling can hijack the brain and lead to behavioral problems. Understanding addiction can motivate an addict to seek treatment, and can…
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